It happens more often than I’d like to admit.
I’m cruising along, crushing my word count or working on a really exciting part of my business when I get blindsided by something unexpected.
It can be an inconsequential issue but at the time, it can feel overwhelming, like needing a new heating unit for my house or shelling out a few thousand dollars for unexpected repairs to the garage.
More often than not, it has to do with my family. I’m not saying you need to have a spouse and children to understand this, but I also believe there’s a certain level of anxiety that comes with being a parent that you can’t explain to someone who isn’t one.
I’m fortunate that I have not had many family issues that were of an incredibly serious nature. I’m sure part of that is just luck. But I have had a few, and one most recently that derailed my progress on all of the recent projects I’ve been working on because I could not divorce my mind from the worry created by the situation.
I had a hard time focusing on writing my words, revising documents, or even working on mundane tasks like processing and uploading podcast episodes. In fact, for only the second time in five years, I uploaded the wrong file for a podcast episode, which to me is a sign that I’m unfocused, distracted.
I’m a type A. A control freak. I know this about myself, so I try my best to offset those tendencies. Over the past few years, as I’ve waded into middle age and experienced some of the lifestyle consequences of living like a teenager for the first half of my life, I’ve been forced to take better care of both my mind and body.
I’ve drastically changed my diet, ditching processed foods, all forms of sugar, and eating mostly fresh fruits and vegetables with lean meats and fish. I’ve made sure I get at least eight hours of sleep a night, I exercise aerobically five days a week, and I meditate every morning.
But sometimes, life kicks you in the ass so hard that all of that isn’t enough to offset the stress of the situation.
I know I’m better at handling that stress than I was 2, 10, or 20 years ago, but I’m not a Zen master. I can’t wave my hand and eliminate that dull, throbbing pain that started in my back, and that will eventually end up as a stress-induced muscle spasm.
It might seem somewhat obvious, but I’m left with a difficult decision. Do I try to work through the distraction, honoring my responsibilities to myself and my business partner while knowing that the work I’m doing is not my best, or do I set aside my creative work with the understanding that I can’t perform optimally with these distractions, and that means the work won’t get done?
At least, I thought those were my options until I realized I had another. This past week, when the distraction involving my family was at its peak, I didn’t quit, and I didn’t stop working on my creative projects. Instead, I looked at my calendar and began to pick off the small, administrative tasks that would need to get done eventually.
I hadn’t planned on working on them this week, but I knew at some point, the tasks would need to be finished and because they did not require a lot of heavy lifting on the creative side, I simply knocked those out while my mind was mostly preoccupied with other things.
As someone who has struggled with both anxiety and depression, I know that even doing banal, administrative tasks can feel impossible. At different times in my life, I’ve spent days in bed, unable to get up and even brush my hair.
However, as I’ve changed my lifestyle and become healthier, those periods of anxiety and depression don’t feel as severe as they once did, and I think that has allowed me to work on some tasks instead of staying in bed and binge-watching Netflix.
I know the solution to my recent situation was not ideal, but at least I felt as though I hadn’t lost a complete workday or more.
I treat my anxiety and depression as a chronic illness, which makes sense because that’s how it manifests itself in my body. At least now, though, I don’t feel as though I’m at a complete loss.
Each week in this blog series, I’ll discuss what it means to live the author life, delving into topics about mindset, craft, audience, finance, publishing, self-improvement, spirituality, technology, and more.
I’m giving away EVERYTHING I’ve learned about the craft and business of becoming a career author in a course which includes 5 modules, 120 topics, and 6 hours of instruction—purposefully designed to guide you through the transformation from struggling writer to career author. No catch, no strings, no upsell. Get FREE instant access right NOW at TheAuthorLife.com.
Now go live the author life!